School visits

The Research School of Physics and Engineering offers a variety of outreach activities for high school students. We encourage you to come onto campus and visit our world class laboratories, where students can participate in exciting hands on activities.

Our physicists can also present at schools, online or on-campus on a number of topics, including photonics, quantum science and relativity. Presentations can be tailored to suit the current curriculum and meet the requirements of science teachers.

Below is a list of some ANU Physics school visit options. These can be matched with other activities on campus to make up a complete visit to ANU.

For information on other ANU science visit options please visit the ANU College of Science.

Physics at ANU: Gravitational waves

The Michelson Interferometer is a unique piece of optical engineering that was used in the late 19th century to determine the speed of matter in the aether wind. Results were negative and provided a basis for Albert Einstein to determine the laws of relativity.

In the 21st century a larger version of the device formed the basis of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) that detected the presence of gravitational waves. Scientists from LIGO were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2017.

Students will have an opportunity to build and use the Michelson Interferometer and to visit the gravitational wave research laboratory.

Physics at ANU: Optics and photonics

The optics and photonics program involves a number of experimental activities including:

  • Michelson Interferometer
  • Diffraction
  • Image processing
  • Spectra
  • Optical fibres
  • Medical use of Gamma Radiation
  • Bell Photo-phone
  • Solar cells

The level of experiments varies depending on the age of the group. There may also be an opportunity for our scientists to link into the National Curriculum.

It's important that students and teachers enjoy the activities and that's why we link into the outside world where physics is used. This visit may include a tour through a research area and several demonstrations of physics in action.

Physics in schools

Academic staff, students or technical staff can visit your school with a range of STEM activities to suit all ages. The activities may include: Edison Robot, Optics, Electrostatics, solar energy and electricity.

Physics at ANU: Radioactivity, nuclear and particle physics, nuclear medicine

The electrostatic accelerator at ANU is ten storeys high, operates at up to 15 million volts, and is used to initiate nuclear reactions, make exotic radio-isotopes and study fundamental aspects of the strong and weak nuclear forces. As well as a tour of this national and international facility visitors can learn about the science behind nuclear power, medical physics and how isotopes are made and can be safely used.

Hands-on experiments are possible, including measuring radiation levels, identifying isotopes and observing different types of nuclear decay and measuring radioactive half-lives. There may also be an opportunity for our scientists to link into the National Curriculum.

Virtual tour

If you can't make it to visit Nuclear Physics in person you can always explore the facility using our online vitrual tour. The tour features 360 degree photos of the heart of the accelerator and all the labs, and interviews with staff and students, so you can get inside this unique facility and find out how it works.

Physics with Professor John Close

Prof Close has many areas of expertise, including:

  • plant physiology;
  • atomic and molecular physics;
  • degenerate quantum gases and atom optics,¬†synchrotrons, accelerators, instruments and techniques;
  • classical and physical optics;
  • plasma¬†physics, fusion plasmas, electrical discharges;
  • quantum optics; lasers and quantum electronics.


Updated:  30 January 2023/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPhys/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster